You might want to take the following health advice with … a slice of cheese.
As we have been hearing for some time, saturated fats may have received more reprimanding than they deserved.
The Guardian has reported that Aseem Malhotra, interventional cardiology specialist registrar at Croydon University hospital in London, is the latest heart expert to defend saturated fats – especially when compared to the more insidious trans-fats found in fast foods and baked goods.
In his article, published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, Malhotra writes that "recent prospective cohort studies have not supported any significant association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular risk. Instead, saturated fat has been found to be protective."
The key to making the most of saturated fats, he notes, is their source. Dairy foods and unprocessed meats offer essential vitamins, aid against insulin resistance and can contribute to long-term weight loss.
Malhotra appeared on the BBC, clarifying to the news anchor that he is not condoning "lots of butter" – just a switch from low-fat spreads.
It does seem that Malhotra is generating a lot of attention for an opinion that is not even that new. San Francisco-based pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig has been among the more vocal proponents of shifting the balance away from low-fat (and often, by extension, high-sugar) diets.
But Malhotra's also takes issue with doctors over-prescribing statins to lower total cholesterol when, he says, "several independent population studies in healthy adults have shown that low total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular and non-cardiac mortality, indicating that high total cholesterol is not a risk factor in a healthy population."
So once again, we are left feeling conflicted about our food choices. Entrecote or tofu stir-fry? Cheese plate or sorbet? If it's any comfort, Malhotra and other experts still condone "real food" above all. And there's nothing fishy about that.